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Did you know Clarity was free?
Microsoft Clarity is a user behavior analytics tool that helps you understand how people interact with your website... and your community
Before many knew me for working at Vanilla, I was helping an open-source project called Piwik (now Matomo) with various community and marketing tasks. I have always had a keen interest in analytics, and I think you can even see that in my book (The Accidental Community Manager). I write quite a bit about various analytics tools and strategies - mainly because it fascinates me, and data is sexy.
I mean, data and the presentation of data can be the difference between getting the help you need in your community, proving the value of your work or making the arguments for changes to the design of your community. That last one is always interesting. People always have “opinions” when it comes to design; most times, it’s not based on data. They choose a colour or a menu placement solely due to their internal feelings about aesthetics.
In the book, I told about a disaster I had once doing a community “redesign” based on the advice of an expert. It wasn’t data-based, but I thought they knew better. It almost destroyed my conversion funnels - but thankfully, I was in a position to revert the changes. Sometimes, however, you may find yourself lacking such an option.
The other thing a lot of community folks lack too is budget. Especially as the economy is still tight and many have been laid off (including yours truly). It behooves anyone to save money where they can.
In this newsletter, I want to mention a tool I forgot to include in the book: Microsoft Clarity. When writing the main analytics section in the book, this tool was still new, but in 2023, it’s an excellent option for you.
What is Microsoft Clarity, you ask? It’s the tool you should use before and after any design change. Clarity (as they call it for short) is a behaviour analytics tool that allows you to see how people interact with your website (and your community) through session replays and heatmaps.
I’ve always been a big fan of HotJar, but Clarity is free and unlimited in comparison. Sure, you lose the survey aspect of HotJar, but Clarity makes up for it with various integrations. Which ones do you ask?
It integrates with the most popular CMS platforms like Wix and WordPress. However, the most important thing for me (and I am sure for you) is that it’s dead simple to install, especially if you have Google Tag Manager. This makes it easy to install almost anywhere with little IT help. Another win is it’s also GDPR compliant. Finally, connecting Clarity to your Google Analytics (GA) is what makes this so powerful. With this connection, you can use the data from your GA to segment and filter Clarity data. This means you can set a conversion goal of community signup and see why folks abandon it or where they get stuck. You can see if your categories confuse people on where to post, and it can give you insight into the fact maybe that essential element is too far down in your community sidebar.
However, I am not here to give a product review or demo of Microsoft Clarity, and I don’t need to - or think it’s necessary. You can play with it for free here and see what it can do. However, as you’ll quickly realize, understanding how people interact with your community with design elements is priceless. This is a way to make accurate decisions and ones backed with data. And at a forever free price with 100k recorded sessions, it’s a no-brainer to try out.
I hope this newsletter gives you another tool in your belt. Don’t let intuition be your guide on community design; use data. As one of my fave analytics sayings goes: “The only thing your gut should tell you is when it’s hungry!”.
Thanks for reading this edition of my newsletter and sharing it with your friends! Here’s to your continued success!
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